As a musician, when I first learned about the popularity of games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band I was a little suspicious. I was curious, of course, but skeptical enough that I hadn't gone out of my way to give this new craze a shot. But the day of reckoning came, and I must say that I was shocked by how much I really love Rock Band.

I'll leave the philosophical discussions for another time, but the bottom line is that whether someone plays an instrument already or not, Rock Band is genuinely fun. Guitar Hero is nice too, but the ability to play with three friends, the inclusion of drums (my instrument of choice), and vocals really puts this one head and shoulders above anything else out there.

For the skeptics: believe me I never thought I would say this; Rock Band is worth the money. It's got replay value all over the place from increasing difficulty to trying other instruments to downloading new tracks to play. It's got solo and multiplayer capabilities that make it one of the best single player, online multiplayer and party games out there. Yes, the cost of the kit is high, but the potential value delivered is amazing.

I had heard that musicians love Rock Band, but I couldn't imagine why until I played it. It brings a whole new aspect to familiar songs, and it actually does help people learn and enhance key traits like limb independence and timing. Because you can't stop playing, it also hits on one of the major aspects of music from a performance perspective – no matter how much you screw up you have got to keep playing. I know quite a few musicians who are inclined to drop out or want to start over if they screw up, and this will kill a show faster than actually playing Freebird.

As a drummer, knowing how to play a song is both a good and a bad thing. It's difficult because if the arrangement you've learned and played for years is different than the original, you could have a tough time adjusting. It is just as hard not playing something you hear as it is playing something you haven't included in your personal arrangement. At the same time, knowing that something like STP's Vaseline is essentially based around a paradiddle between the kick and snare really helps beat the learning curve.

But, my experience aside, there are millions of copies of Rock Band out there. We whole heartedly recommend that anyone who enjoys music and video games take the plunge on this one. The game is big, and its content is expanding every week. New songs are added every Tuesday, and we will be starting a weekly series exploring these new additions. Along the way we will also try to dive deeper into the experience that is Rock Band, but in the meantime, this is the place to come in order to find out if the new songs released each week are worth downloading.

This Week's New Music
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  • Reg0r - Sunday, February 10, 2008 - link

    Acutally, the song Vasoline is based around a paradiddle (or single paradiddle if you prefer), NOT a double paradiddle. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    oops ... i miss typeded :-)

    thanks, its been corrected.
    Reply
  • protest the hero - Wednesday, February 6, 2008 - link

    Any idea which version 'We Care A Lot' is, with the original Mr Bungle singer, or Patton ?

    It's one of my favorite songs by them, though I'll even admit I didn't understand the choice of it being in the game, as it's not remotely technical. It is very catchy though :P
    Reply
  • Spivonious - Wednesday, February 6, 2008 - link

    So does the game actually resemble what Peart is playing? Reply
  • Reg0r - Sunday, February 10, 2008 - link

    Yes. I haven't studied the working man track as much, but the RB version of Tom Sawyer is incredibly close to the actual drum parts that Neil plays. Reply
  • Rage187 - Tuesday, February 5, 2008 - link

    Siva on expert drums
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3zh9eP5ocg">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3zh9eP5ocg

    the guy is a monster.
    Reply
  • Snooper - Wednesday, February 6, 2008 - link

    I didn't understand it either. I bought my nephew a XBox 360 for Christmas. Of course, my brother and sister-in-law knew what I was getting him.

    She bought my brother Rock Band for Christmas (harder than heck to track down before Christmas!). I was frankly stunned to find out that is actually what my brother wanted! He'd played it at a friends house...

    Well, the whole family was at their house for Christmas, so we had give it a try!. And it was actually a lot of fun. A whole lot more fun than I would have expected. You can get four people playing (we only had three as they hadn't bought the extra guitar. Yet), and it is cooperative play. A heck of a lot of fun, especially for (and with) the kids.

    I never did get very good with the drums, but I COULD hit the notes! Thank GOD they don't make you be in the right octave!
    Reply
  • ninjit - Tuesday, February 5, 2008 - link

    I've heard lots of people rave about Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but I personally could never understand the appeal (but I've never played it)

    Derek's introductory paragraph pretty much sums up my own opinion as well:
    - if you want to play music, pick up a real instrument, it can be so much more fullfilling.
    - if you want to play video games, play them.

    I didn't quite see how they could mix; I always looked at it like Dance-Dance-Revolution but with instruments - and that's a game I've tried and truly detest.

    I guess I'll have to actually try it before I knock it though.

    ... Now if I could only find a !@#$ing Wii at retail price!
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, February 5, 2008 - link

    I kind of agree.

    It would be nice though *if* a similar(but 'better') tool taught proper technique.

    Having had several guitars of my own, and having learned somewhat of how to play, I can not help but giggle every time I see someone playing 'guitar hero' . . . they may as well be playing 'air guitar' because from what I have seen, it actually teaches bad guitar habits, let alone improper habits.

    Then again, this is not a training tool, it is a game, one that is a complete waste of time in my own opinion.
    Reply
  • saiga6360 - Tuesday, February 5, 2008 - link

    You sir, are a nimrod. Reply

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